Monday, June 9, 2008

Sarkar Raj: movie review

I went to watch Sarkar Raj yesterday evening. As I took my place, I saw this small kid sleeping in the seat next to me. Though my wife found him extremely cute I wasn’t amused. Kids can be quite disruptive in settings like this. I take my movies quite seriously and like to watch them with undivided attention. Nonetheless I was glad that at least he was sleeping and wished that he slept peacefully till the movie was over.

I am a huge of Ramu and even the disastrous ‘RGV ki Aag’ didn’t discourage me to change my loyalty for him. Of course, who doesn’t have a bad day at work and historically too, amid the duds like Daud, Mast, Naach and Darling he has given gems like Shiva, Rangeela, Satya, Company and Sarkar. Also, some of the finest actors, directors, scriptwriters and composers got their first big breaks because of him- Manoj Bajpai, Jaideep Sahni, Anurag Kashyap and Madhur Bhandarkar are suitable examples.

I had huge expectations from Sarkar Raj. I thought this would be his chance to redeem from the misery of ‘Aag’. But in all honesty- I am quite disappointed, and I have valid reasons to be.

To start with- the characterisation, especially of some of the negative characters is extremely caricaturish. You have an over reacting Sayaji Shinde who painfully overdoes everything from his dialogue deliveries to basic mannerisms of eating, walking and talking. This definitely would qualify as one of his career worst performances.

Then there is another bad character- Mr. Vora - who insists on the correct pronunciation of his name- and erratically hums old hindi songs. This guy brought back the memories of Sadashiv Amrapurkar era of villainhood and believe me you can’t get worse than that.

But my award for the best of the worst goes to this contract killer they hire for killing Abhishek. He is supremely intriguing and expresses everything through a judicious movement of his hand…or leather gloves (to be more specific) and the dialogues between this handyman and his employers (Sayaji and Vora) are to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Guys this is dramatic even by the cinematic standards.

Talking about Ash, I couldn’t quite understand her position throughout the movie. In her introductory scene, she explicitly expresses her disregard for the word ‘impossible’ and comes across as no- nonsense business woman with an exclusive focus on getting the project through. But her stance becomes utterly contradicting and confusing as the movie progresses.

The relevance of place is completely exempted for this woman (one moment she is in London, the next moment in Mumbai or Thakerwadi) and she is privileged to be a part of the confidential meetings of Nagres’ where she has nothing to do whatsoever- like the scene where Shankar is trying to figure out the killers of his wife and sacks Chander.

Abhishek Bachan carries a solo serious expression through out the movie and sounds preachy for the most part of it. Calling themselves the crusaders of positive change, the father-son duo try to outdo each other in profundity by uttering pretentious and theatrical dialogues to each other.

The scene in the Hospital between the father and the son (where Shankar is fighting death) and the scene where Nagre senior informs Ash about killing her father- are particularly funny and worth special mention.

Also, the scene where Shankar goes to nab Qazi is exaggerated even if you account for the cinematic liberties that a director can avail for.

Talking about the camera work- Ramu’s romance with the close-ups, unusual camera angles and his play with light have become monotonous and seem to make the film lengthy than it actually is. I have noted that he also has a fascination to focus on cups and saucers and should probably ask Lipton to sponsor his next film.

The background score is irritating to say the least and overpowers the narrative. The kid (next to me) woke up to the ‘Govinda Govinda’ tune like a bad dream and hence kept asking his popcorn digging mother “mamma, yeh kab khatam hoga?”

Everytime the mother said “beta, ab khatam hone wala hai”, more than the kid, I had a sigh of relief thinking that the torture is at last coming to an end.

In a scene Amitabh tells his son- “Beta, yeh tum par nahi, tumhare soch par hamla hai”. This is what Ramu should be saying to his viewers.

Ramu, dude wake up and smell the coffee. If you don’t want to go to film school, at least revisit your own work like Satya nd Shiva to come up with something better next time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Goodbye VF

Saturday, May 31st. My last day at Arvind. After finishing all the exit formalities I was left with the last job here- writing a farewell letter to my team. Honestly I am quite bad at these things, so, I decided to take help of the man’s greatest invention- Google. I started my search with the keywords “sample farewell letter”.

While I was trying my best to mix and match couple of search results and come up with an original version- Sambit- who sits next to me caught me red handed. He has this gift of peeping into others monitors on all wrong occasions. Completely unashamed of trespassing into my privacy, his comment was acidic- “kam se kam yeh toh khud likh liya hota. I will mail the source of this letter to the entire team”. There is no point in reasoning with him, I thought. He was looking for a final session of ‘time-pass’ with me.

I started missing my ‘gang’ even before I walked out of the office. That’s when I thought, perhaps, I should bid a more personalised goodbye to my friends. So, here it goes-

These are the people who made my stay worthwhile in this office. Each one of them is an ‘original’ in their own sense and I doubt if I would ever meet such an extraordinarily abnormal mix of people under one roof.

I will miss each one of you-

Sambit- he is born ‘funny’. Like some people have answers for everything- this guy has questions for everything. Youngest member of the team, he provides a comic relief even in the most terrible situations. His discussions with Kamal, Tiwary and Ashok are always animated, pointless but nonetheless absolute fun. Behind all his naivety, he is a very quick learner, a caring boyfriend (Is Anu reading this?) and overall a very interesting human being.

Kamal- A self assumed union leader of the mass brands, he is also the in-house ‘sexologist’- capable of correlating your coffee drinking habits to your sexual performance. He is ‘tej (faster)' than ‘aaj tak’ in bringing us all the office gossip. His ability to come to conclusions without any supporting information can irritate and surprise you at the same time (He concluded that Sambit didn’t have a girlfriend because he doesn’t get phone calls every five minutes. That’s just a sample of how far fetched his logic can be). An action oriented man- ‘abhi (Now)’ is his most commonly used word. Above all this he is an absolutely doting father and undisputed king of sourcing…knits- that is.

Sandip- A true representative of the Bengali clan, he is a man of varied interests (movies, chess, photography, politics, music and literature to name a few). Speaks English with a Bengali accent and even his swear words sound as sweet as 'rosogulla'. Has an opinion on everything under the sun. He loves to disagree with you and needs half an excuse to jump into a debate.

Sutta (smoke)’ sessions with him are always intellectually stimulating. Most of his conversations would have a mention of his previous companies or his beloved wife. More importantly- this guy has not lost that childlike innocence and his passion for life. A no nonsense guy, he is exceptionally street smart and will go places.

Abhilasha- an excellent designer and a complete tomboy. Has a strong streak of adventure in her (scuba diving in Andaman). Has an amazing mind-though she selectively puts it to any constructive use. The most sorted out person in the team- I admire her honesty and frankness. Addicted to word games on the net she has the ability to connect and put you at ease irrespective of whether you are having a meaningful or a needless conversation. Keep spreading that happiness.

Ismail- He has that streak of eccentricity that you always associate with creative people. Seeks perfection in his work and looses temper on the slightest provocation. On many occasions he has stunned me with his ability to work so hard over long periods of time. There is certain rawness in him which is exhilarating. Beware of him if he is in a bad mood. I am sure very soon he would make it to the big league.

Priya: This art of living student is the hardest working amongst the lot and mostly you would spot her staring at complicated excel sheets. One moment she has that teacher like disciplinary look and the other moment she has that motherly effect when you want to pour your heart out to her. Has an air of maturity around her and I admire the grace with which she handled some of the most difficult personal and professional situations. More strength to you.

Guys, they say you should love your work and not the workplace. But because of you all I loved the workplace much more than the work :)

Big thanks to each one of you for making this journey so special. It’s a life lasting friendship that I carry from here.

God bless.